March 2nd, 2009
01:23 PM ET
6 years ago

GOP chairman says he leads party, not Rush Limbaugh

 Steele says he is the leader of the GOP.
Steele says he is the leader of the GOP.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Republican Party Chairman Michael Steele is taking issue with the notion that Rush Limbaugh is the de facto leader of the GOP, calling the conservative radio talk show host an entertainer whose comments can be ugly.

Steele, chairman of the Republican National Committee, said in an interview with CNN that he, rather than Limbaugh, is "the de facto leader of the Republican Party."

And Steele described Limbaugh as a performer.

"Rush Limbaugh is an entertainer. Rush Limbaugh's whole thing is entertainment," Steele said. "Yes, it is incendiary. Yes, it is ugly."

Last month, Steele, a former lieutenant governor of Maryland, was elected chair of the RNC. He is the first African-American to lead the Republican Party. At the time of his election, Steele said that "Rush will say what Rush has to say; we'll do what we have to do."

Steele made his latest comments regarding Limbaugh on CNN's "D.L. Hughley Breaks the News," which aired this weekend. The Steele interview was taped before Limbaugh's appearance before the Conservative Political Action Conference, an annual meeting of conservatives from across the nation.

Limbaugh brought a cheering crowd to its feet several times as he called on fellow conservatives to take back the country.

He used his self-described "first national address," which ran more than an hour longer than his allotted 20 minutes, to accuse President Barack Obama of inspiring fear in Americans in order to push a liberal agenda of "big government."

Limbaugh also backed up comments he made earlier this year in which he said he hoped Obama fails.

"What is so strange about being honest and saying I want Barack Obama to fail if his mission is to restructure and re-form this country so that capitalism and individual liberty are not its foundation?"

But a top Republican in Congress disagreed.

"I don't think anyone wants anything to fail right now," House Republican Whip Eric Cantor said on ABC's "This Week." "We have such challenges. What we need to do is we need to put forth solutions to the problems that real families are facing today."

RNC spokesman Alex Conant on Monday did not directly address Steele's comments about Limbaugh but pointed out the back and forth between the White House and the conservative radio host.

"Rahm Emanuel and the Democrats know they lose an argument with the Republican Party on substance so they are building straw men to attack and distract," he said. "The feud between radio host Rush and Rahm makes great political theater, but it is a sideshow to the important work going on in Washington.

"RNC Chairman Michael Steele and elected Republicans are focused on fighting for reform and winning elections. The Democrats' problem is that the American people are growing skeptical of the massive government spending being pushed by congressional leaders like [House Speaker] Nancy Pelosi," Conant said.

A spokesman for Limbaugh said the radio host did not have an immediate response, but added he would likely address Steele's comments Monday on his nationally syndicated radio program.


Filed under: Rush Limbaugh
soundoff (1,100 Responses)
  1. Mickele

    The only way that Michael Steele can prove he runs the party is to step away from the hatred-spewing Limbaugh and Coulter and offer solutions to the nation's problems instead of just saying nothing will work. Until then, I remain skeptical.

    March 2, 2009 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  2. Nancy

    Unfortunately, for Mr. Steele, Limbaugh believes he is the leader of the Republican Party and has 14 million people who do believe. Letting Limbaugh have a national stage to rant for an hour and a half and pound his chest (is that the new Conservative greeting sign?) at a conference where Mitt Romney, Mitch O'Connell and Newt Gingrich also decided to speak does not bode well for the Republican party. Keep it up guys, you are doing a wonderful job of destroying your party.

    March 2, 2009 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  3. Where is the OUTRAGE when in 2001 GW BUSH gave 1.35 trillion dollars in TAX CUT to the RICH & CORPORATE AMERICA

    entertainer the FAT croaking FROG is! here comes the power tussle...between the dimwit who wants to hip hop the Grand Obstructionist Party and the FROGGY who wants to put the party on steroid!

    An entertainer on steroid will probably win this round...shooting off bazooka's of nonentities that he uses to line his deep pockets of right-wing nuts advertising dollars – of hate, bigotry and anything he deems unAmerican!!!!

    March 2, 2009 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  4. Dalton

    I have heard a lot of complaining from the GOP about the stimulus package and the foreclosure prevention package but I haven't heard them offer any alternative other than the same capital gains tax cuts and business tax cuts that got us here in the first place.

    March 2, 2009 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  5. IJC

    Steele, Steele, Steele, Steele, Steele, GOP are using you to fight Obama. They don't really want you. How many black politician are in the Congress? = 0. How many black politician are in the Senate? = 0. Do you think you are that important to them? Rush Limbaugh "hopes the President of the United State fails" , and you think he wants you to succeed. What kills me the most is, GOP politician never pressure him to apologize. They all wish the country fail, instead of seeing a black President succeeds. That's outrageous!

    Israel
    Williamsburg, VA

    March 2, 2009 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  6. Independent Paul

    Limbaugh leads Republicans.

    MoveOn.org leads Democrats.

    And the country is worse off for both.

    March 2, 2009 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  7. Walter

    "Incendiary and ugly"?

    Better be careful Mr. Chairman. Talk like that can get a person lynched in Rush Limbaugh's America.

    March 2, 2009 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  8. joe magaratz

    Whoa! What is this! A little division among the right wing nut cases?

    March 2, 2009 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  9. Zach

    Wow, that is news to me!

    March 2, 2009 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  10. chuck

    Well,why was Rush Limbaugh the main speaker on Saturday afternoon at the CPAC which was televised throughout America??? This clearly shows that Michael Steele is just the puppet and Rush Limbaugh who looked more like a "black crow" is the FACE of the RNC which usually means "RACIAL NATIONAL CONGRESS".

    March 2, 2009 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  11. Timus

    Let the implosion of the Republican party begin!!!

    March 2, 2009 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  12. Ken Benedict

    WHAT???? Are we now seeing a war between repubs and conservatives??? Is the chairmanship going to Michael Steele's head?????? GOD help us...........

    March 2, 2009 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  13. laughing

    Yeah right.. that's what they are wanting him to believe...

    Face it buddy the only reason you got the job was the color of your skin.. they don't respect you and never will let you lead them..

    March 2, 2009 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  14. geecee

    Limpbag is indeed the Fuhrer of the new Grand Obstructionist Party. They absolutely love him. My spouse and I listened to a half hour of his "performance" before the CPAC on Saturday. It's about all we could take. Our uncle who is 90 years old, and a WWII Vet who fought the Nazis, was watching him also in his apartment when we walked in to tell him we were going out to dinner. He said "Have you listened to this guy? He's dangerous. Someone should arrest him". This coming from a WWII Vet. I tell you, given his age, our uncle is still one sharp guy. That says it all.

    March 2, 2009 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  15. Donna from Colorado Springs

    Michael Steele may think he runs the GOP, but Rush Limbaugh has other ideas about that! Limbaugh is so full of himself and feels what he says is gospel. He's not about to give up his place of importance in the GOP.......even if it's only in his mind. I think that a long time ago he might have been a serious radio journalist. But now, he's just a big fat joke.....a caricature of himself. He feels that his EIB network is the only viable source of information that gives people the real news. Someone needs to knock him off of the pedastal he has put himself on!

    March 2, 2009 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  16. JonDie

    Michael Steele couldn't lead an escape attempt from the inside of a paper bag if someone else moistened the bag, tore a hole in it for him and gave him a flashlight.

    And Limbaugh does have far more followers than Steele.

    March 2, 2009 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  17. Simpliticus

    The court jester is calling out the circus barker! How interesting! Michael Steele is attempting to NOT lose his supposed vested interest and position to a known and excellent deliverer of GOP angst in Rush Limbaugh. Is a fight brewing? If Steele thinks that he can best Limbaugh, he has another thing coming but if Limbaugh wants to better Steele he also has a thing coming! Steele is in an unenviable position in having to rally the GOP after a popular president has been elected. Quite frankly, Steel has been doing as well as a court jester could. Limbaugh has been doing poorly as well when he attempts to upbraid Jindal of Louisiana when Jindal did one horrendous job of replying to Obama's non-state of the union speech. Both are coming out wounded in recent forays. This is one event where the length of the bout is not the means to better the victor but merely watching the verbal beating is the interesting matter!

    March 2, 2009 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  18. Justin from New Haven, CT

    They're all idiots anyways so who cares.

    March 2, 2009 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  19. IJC

    Steele, Steele, Steele, Steele, Steele, GOP are using you to fight Obama. They don't really want you. How many black Republican are in the Congress? = 0. How many black Republican are in the Senate? = 0. Do you think you are that important to them? Rush Limbaugh "hopes the President of the United State fails" , and you think he wants you to succeed. What kills me the most is, GOP politician never pressure him to apologize. They all wish the country fail, instead of seeing a black President succeeds. That's outrageous!

    Israel
    Williamsburg, VA

    March 2, 2009 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  20. alvino

    Steele is toast! Rancid Rush is the leader of the RNC.

    March 2, 2009 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  21. ray

    WOWO. I DO WONDER WHAT THE DRUG HEAD LIMBAUGH IS SAYING AFTER THE REAL PARTY LEADER IS SAYING ABOUT HIS UGLY FACE? AGAIN THE REPUBLICANS WANTS AN ALL WHITE AMERICA, BUT LET ME REMIND YOU RACISTS ON THE RIGHT THAT THE REAL AMERICANS ARE THE ONES YOU ROB, RAPED, KILL, MURDER AND BURN FOR THIS LAND.

    March 2, 2009 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  22. Dan

    Mr. Steele may have been selected as chairman of the GOP, but we all know that Rush Limbaugh embodies what the party is really about: tax cuts for the wealthy, deregulation, guns, war, and "taking back the country" for white people.

    March 2, 2009 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  23. Cecil

    Steele is such a phoney. He didn't look as though he didn't agree with rush when rush was speaking on Saturday night. "We love people". Yeah, as long as they look like us, think like us and act like us. If not, we have no use for them. What a joke! If the head of the RNC thought rush was not such a great representative for the conservatives, why did they invite him? Why give him a forum for his "incendiary" and "ugly" comments? Phoneys!!!

    March 2, 2009 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  24. Tina

    Uh oh. Steele you just crossed the almighty Rush. Prepare yourself.

    March 2, 2009 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  25. Bill

    He might want to tell that to fatso. Limbaugh as head of the republican party. Reagan must be rolling over in his grave.

    March 2, 2009 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
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